Some of you may have noticed that this blog has been quiet for the last few months, there are two reasons for this. I got a new job which left me with little time for racing or writing, but there was another reason. I lost the love for OCR.
This was the moment I lost faith, November 02015 at the UK OCR Championships. Whilst I’ve taken part in one fun team race since then, I’ve never raced again yet. I say yet because I so desperately want to, but let me let you into a secret: I’m afraid.
Here, was the point where the sport stopped being fun and started being something I felt I was battling against. On a course, badly organised where I felt along with most of the women who took part, we were being destined to fail. I no longer felt a challenge, something that made me want to battle, I felt weary. I got hypothermic and I cried as I stood by a rig, which was sopping wet from the non-championship racers who were allowed to use it differently. I battled on for 45 minutes before being pulled off the course. My first ever DNF, and I cannot come back from it.
This isn’t something only I am feeling. Recent conversations have told me that others are sick of races trying to beat all the others, rather than testing their competitors. The recent Spartan Euro championships where carry after carry made even those at the front feel like this was a hard slog rather than a race to win.
Many races out there are losing sight of what is wanted, and it’s dividing the community. More importantly for them, it will lose them money. Things are progressing so quickly, competition between brands is so high that there are elements of races that you cannot do without experience or specific training, this for me seems a surefire way of putting people off. This is also why more and more people are being drawn to non chip timed and “fun” events, especially for their first races. Who wants to be set up for a fail?
At Tough Guy Nettle Warrior 2016 I said to one of the competitors “I so desperately want to WANT to get back into this.” “That’s the first part of the battle” was the response.
I’m not used to sailing through everything, don’t get me wrong: look at these two pictures, taken two weeks apart. The first at Winter Tough Guy 2015 where I struggled to finish, and the second at Winter Nuts Two Laps on two weeks later, where I took home the win in the Ladies category. Being knocked down doesn’t keep me down, and that is what OCR has taught so many of us, how to face things head on, how to carry on and bring enjoyment through the pain, see the joy afterwards. But it got to a point for me, where I just couldn’t.
Whilst I am ok with struggle, what is the point when you feel you will not overcome it? It’s been so long now, and my training has failed so much I wonder how I will ever put myself out there again. I am not ashamed to say that I am scared. I’m scared of realising how much I have lost, I’m scared of failing again. I do not want to be fun runner every time, I’m never going to be a winner but I love competing even if it’s against myself.
I attended Rat Race Dirty Weekend but didn’t run, it was there some sage words were given to me: “You’ve changed, you no longer NEED OCR, but you’ll do it if you want to”. I suppose this is true in a way, OCR helped me a lot through some difficult times: escapism, friends, self punishment even. For so many of us we use it as a form of therapy, but have I really moved on, or has the sport moved on without me.
When I think about entering a race, all I can picture is the moment I will fail. Hypothermia, that old knee injury flaring up, my running being so poor that I can’t continue: not at the pace I know I used to be able to do. I can’t accept that I’ve become weaker, but I’m too afraid to do anything about it.
I used to take pleasure from the thought of overcoming the challenges. My first ever race I vomited from pushing so hard, and I loved it so much I signed up for the next as soon as I got home. Now I know the pitfalls before I’ve started, and that one time of such utter unhappiness has left me unable to dredge up the enthusiasm to be able to pull through when it gets tough.
I’m looking forward to the point where it will just click for me, and I’ll get the enthusiasm and the confidence to return, but right now, I’ve no idea when that will be…